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March 27, 1987

Anatomically Correct

Author Affiliations

Pomona, Calif

Pomona, Calif

JAMA. 1987;257(12):1648. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390120110036

Walking to the morgue, I couldn't help thinking of a friend of mine who recently lost a child at term, a tragedy for him and his wife. For weeks the effects of this loss worked on him and changed him; he buried himself deeper in his work and lost, along with the child, his remarkable sense of humor that formerly had made work for everyone in the lab that much more enjoyable. As I opened the door of the morgue, I was struck hard by the thought of the pain that another set of parents must be suffering at this very moment.

Before beginning the autopsy, I played out the scenario that happens all too often in these circumstances, that the child will appear perfectly normal and no anatomic defect will be seen to explain the intrauterine death, leaving the parents with the burden of resolving their own private guilt,